The Saints Want their Fans Back!
The past couple of days, a public relations "war of words" has been volleyed between the New Orleans Saints organization and Mayor of New Orleans - caught in the middle is the Who Dat Nation. Saints fans prefer to attend games inside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. But, having a chance to "be in the number" at Tiger Stadium would not be a bad choice for Who Dats as well.
Mayor Latoya Cantrell has made it clear - the Saints can not host home games with fan attendance inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome because of the health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. She is not opposed to the Saints moving their home games to LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA.
The City of New Orleans will move to Phase 3.2 on Saturday. The new phase will allow more attendance seating in outside stadiums (not indoor arenas) for high schools and recreational events. Her administration mentioned the city is not ready to have 20,000 fans in an indoor stadium (like the Superdome) and rejected the Saints' latest proposal - for now.
THE SAINTS' POSITION
The Saints fired back on the mayor’s comments in this tweet:
Since week one there have been 33 NFL games played with fans of those tender, played with fans and domed or enclosed stadiums. In no instances have there been any reporting of COVID clusters or outbreaks in these situations, or any situations in stadiums.
The Mayor has denied requests from New Orleans Saints, the NFL, and owners to host fans in the Mercedes Benz Superdome, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Saints fans have not attended home games and gatherings in Champions Square nor tailgated this season.
The team is 3-2 on the season. You have noticed on critical drives and times within the Saints' home games with the Buccaneers, Packers, and Chargers, fan noise inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome would have hampered on-field communications of these Saints opponents. Going back a few weeks, Sean Payton was visibly "taken aback" when reporters shared the news of Mayor Cantrell's decision to cancel fan attendance at the Green Bay Packers' contest in Week 3. The Saints would eventually lose the match 37-30.
The problem started in March when New Orleans led the nation in COVID-19 deaths per capita. The Mayor was clear that she was not ready to host 20,000 fans in the Mercedes Benz Superdome while fighting the spread of COVID-19. The Mayor shared,
There is not an indoor stadium in America that is having a large number of fans in the stands right now," she said. "And, for good reason.
New Orleans Saints’ head coach Sean Payton is in favor of having the home crowd. If faced with a Superdome without fans or moving the next game to Tiger Stadium with fans, the coach prefers to move the next game. Moving the Saints to Baton Rouge is gaining traction with Saints fans and the NFL. Tiger Stadium can also be a formidable area for opposing teams because it provides one of the best home-field advantages in college football for LSU.
“You’ll be playing outside in a great environment. There’s a big difference we play with no fans and played out there were 25,000 of our own fans,” said Payton.
THE SAINTS AND VENUESHIELD PLAN
The Mercedes Benz Superdome has gone beyond the norm to put in place protocols to provide a safe environment for home games. Superdome officials say they have put together a 1,000-page plan called venue shield and instituted changes designed to make the Superdome COVID-19 safe.
The Saints and the Superdome are doing everything they can to keep fans, players, and the staff safe. The nationwide COVID-19 pandemic is forcing facility operators around the globe to revise management and operations protocols. The New Orleans Saints and Mercedes Benz Superdome had 166,180 square feet to consider.
ASM Global/Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Saints, the NFL, Ochsner Hospital Systems, and the CDC have partnered with local and state governments to create an impressive plan to reactivate the Dome. The program is called VenueShield and is one of the most comprehensive plans in the NFL.
When fans return to the Superdome, they will instantly notice the VenueShield, signage that ASM Global, and partners Ochsner Health System and the New Orleans Saints created VenueShield of best in class reactivation plan.
The team’s proposal provides the most advanced hygienic safeguards and operating protocols for arenas. The VenueShield protocols include social distancing markers, plexiglass, face covering, and constant reminders inside the facility. Enhanced sanitation practices are in the Dome and the stands. The Superdome football field will have liquid disinfection and scrubbed four times during the 2020 season.
Between the cleanings, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome's field turf will be treated with the Green Zapper. It uses a germicidal and ultraviolet light to instantly destroy 99.9 percent of harmful microorganisms, including the field seats and concession stands. The Mercedes Benz Superdome will host the cleanest football ever played today.